Visa Crunch

A gleam of hope as international students set foot in Australia for the first time since the sealing of borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia boarded a charter flight which landed in Darwin in the wee hours of the morning. The students, upon landing in Darwin, were quarantined immediately at the Howard Springs facility, for a minimum of 14 days.

This is part of a deal that the Northern Territory government brokered with the Federal government and Charles Darwin University, allowing up to 70 international students to fly to Darwin. The necessary precautions were taken, with the students required to test negative for COVID-19 before departure from Singapore.

The vice-chancellor of CDU, Simon Maddocks, believed that Darwin was the ideal city to undertake the trial of this pilot scheme because the Northern Territory has been quite successful in containing outbreaks of the virus. CDU has become the first university in Australia to begin receiving international students again, post-COVID lockdowns.

“We’ve been working with both tiers of government for the last seven months to facilitate this opportunity,” he said. Moreover, Mr Maddocks also suggested that university is putting into motion further plans to facilitate another international student in January, and subsequent flights in the first half of 2021.

He also added, “All being well, we hope we can continue to run these flights through the early part of next year as we see the Australian Higher Education system and the vocational training system return to engaging international students. They are very important for universities. They are very important for our local economy here in Darwin.”

However, this move has met with some criticism from other government opposition officials. Senator Lambie said,” “What I’m supportive of is getting our own back home first before we take any students anywhere, that would be the right Australian thing to do… And there’s plenty more, there’s still thousands more that need to be brought home, and we need to bring them home…I just don’t believe that we put international students before our own people here in the country — I find it quite sickening.”

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